Maldives’ political situation “very positive”: new US Ambassador

New US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Ambassador Michele J Sison, on Sunday presented her credentials to President Mohamed Waheed Hassan, and met with the Maldivian press.

Ambassador Sison replaces Ambassador Patricia A Butenis. She was previously US Deputy Ambassador in Iraq, as well as Deputy Ambassador in the United Arab Emirates.

She has also worked as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of South Asian Affairs, providing broad policy oversight of US relations with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

Ambassador Sison on Sunday morning met with President Waheed, Vice President Waheed Deen and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon, and said she looked forward to meeting the Foreign Minister at a later stage.

“I have been reading about the Maldives for quite some time and am impressed by the warm welcome I received this weekend,” she said.

Asked for her early impressions of the country’s political situation and stability, Sison said it was “very positive. You have democratic institutions in place, you have a vibrant and dynamic media, all of the ingredients are there.”

“What troubles me, and I’m sure troubles the Maldivian people at this point, is that recent events have contributed to a slowdown in the normal political life of the country – for example the vital work of the Majlis. I know we all want to see the political system able to proceed so that important legislative drafts can be discussed and debated and normal political life moves forward in a productive manner.”

Sison said she was encouraged by the work of the current leadership dialogues, “which have the potential for real progress as the country moves towards elections, and I hope will smooth the way for the Majlis to move forward.”

Sison confirmed that she had read the report produced by the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) into the circumstances surrounding February 7’s controversial transfer of power, and noted that the US had “very publicly welcomed the release of the report.”

“I did receive a copy and highlight the summary for my staff. It was a subject of intense interest in Washington,” she said.

Sison said the US had “publicly commended the commission’s co-chairs for their leadership and commitment to a thorough and what we feel was an inclusive review process.”

“We consistently called for all Maldivians to respect the findings of the report. Now we look forward to the implementation of the recommendations and call on all to respect the findings and exercise restraint, and continue the vibrant political expression in the Maldives and channel it in a productive and non-violent manner.”

Sison however refrained from stating whether this stance meant the US would back the Maldives’ government’s bid to be removed from the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the Commonwealth’s human rights and democracy arm.

“I know that the issue is very topical right now, and I’ve [received] various views from political actors and will continue to seek input,” she said.

Asked whether the US was concerned about a broad shift in Maldivian foreign policy from Western allies towards China, Sison responded that “a very simple answer is that the US, as a friend of the Maldives, is encouraged that Maldivian foreign policy is growing in terms of representation and cooperation.”

In her address, Sison noted that key areas of bilateral cooperation would include “furthering the hopes and dreams of youth and women. I really do believe that the US has a useful role to play in the Maldives, particularly in the maritime security, economic and education sectors.”

She announced the imminent arrival of a senior US educator who would be working with the Ministry of Education “on curriculum development and the general professional development of Maldivian educators.”

Ambassador Sison also remarked on the US’s training of the Maldivian police, which she noted would be “very visible this month” as the trainers focused “on the importance of community policing and protection of human rights.”

The US is currently providing US$7.1 million towards an integrated water resource system on Lhaviyani Hinnavaru and Haa Alif Dhihdhoo islands.

It is also contributing US$20,000 in funding towards cultural preservation and the restoration of pre-Islamic artifacts in the National Museum, which were destroyed by a mob that broke into the building amid February 7′s political turmoil.


25 thoughts on “Maldives’ political situation “very positive”: new US Ambassador”

  1. She has such smooth skin. I wonder how scarred her mind will be when we show her the on-live images and video feeds direct from the war zone.

  2. Ambassador you have just made an ass of yourself and the our country - the country which country apparently behoves to bring democracy to the world.

    What was it that frightened you so much about President Nasheed - was it his stance on climate change issues which threatened your economic progress and your inevitable destruction of the world as we know it?

    Lets face it - Democracy meant nothing in this small island really - did it? Now watch this small islamic country slide towards a failed radical islamic state. Thank you Good Ol' USA!!

  3. The Ambassador is clearly very poorly informed and unaware of the realities on the ground!

  4. It's about playing the game of politics.

    All you need is to do everything you can to stay in power and occasionally pop up above the surf for a breather.

    So, grab and hold, just let the world see the calmer sides and lo and behold, you will soon be the politician of the century.

    Be it Anni, Waheed, maumoon or even the ghosts of nasir, the thinking remains the same. If you cannot hold the reigns, you better change career and take up secondary school teaching.

  5. I somehow cannot see the USA leaving out critical evidence such as CTV footage, videos, photos and fail to question a person who declared publicly that he was in charge of the "Command Centre" set up to force President nasheed to resign. I think its very clear now from her statements that President nasheed was forced to resign. Thank you Ambassador.

  6. Warm welcome by a coup-led regime cannot be a pride to a US official as the country considered the guardian of democracy or so she claims and behaves generally as such. But, the mood appears different when it comes to some countries including the Maldives.

    February 7 in the Maldives saw the first democratically elected president overthrown in a coup by the police and armed forces. The international community is perfectly content with the prevailing situation in the Maldives where the democracy and natural justice suffers blow after blow. First the popularly elected president was ousted in a revolt by the security services responsible for the protection of the government. Next, a commission set up by the regime to determine its own legitimacy was allowed and its foregone conclusion was welcomed.

    The half-heated approach to sever setbacks to democracy and the rule of law by the international community and countries of self-styled guardians don’t do any good to democratic experience and rule of law in developing or third-world countries.

  7. These MDP thugs and Anni thinks that " Maldivian " are only them and rest of the people who does not like Anni and MDP does not belong to Maldives ?

    Also those who does not agree with Anni are traitors ? What a double standard these real Baghee Anni and his clans are ?

    The person who had tried to bring a military coup is Anni and it is proven in the Coni report and we have seen with our own eyes what dirty game was played by Anni on 6th Feb and prior that.

    Anni ordered the thugs to fight to the people who were gathered at Artificial beach and he ordered to fight against the Police on 6th night and 7th morning ?

    What a dirty person Anni is ? Anni is a dirtiest person ever had ruled this country and most corrupted even worse than Gayyoom.

  8. Everyone is wrong except MDP. Commonwealth is wrong; they gave us a Tamil judge to put in Coni. EU was wrong; they send an imbecile proffessor to witnesss the inquiry. The CONI report is flawed; some srilankan barristers have proved it so. Waheed is a coup leader, all other parties except MDP are complicit in coup. Now USA is also complicit in this coup bussiness, so the CIA is wrong. UN is wrong too. they seems to have accepted Waheed as president in earnest.

    there is a saying that if everything is comming your way then you are probably in a oneway facing the traffic! So MDP shall take a cue from this. NOT everybody can be wrong! Just learn to digest truth. The truth is there was no coup. it was a legitimate transfer of power.

  9. Dear Ambassador,

    You mentioned, "What troubles me, ... slowdown in the normal political life of the country ..we all want to see the political system able to proceed .. and normal political life moves forward in a productive manner.” I agree. The larger question is how does the political system that came into life that defies all the normal processes of political systems and procedures further normal political life? How do you expect and foresee the political future and democracy return to normal life unless we begin to restore the democratic process by holding the fundamental in a democracy - elections. When both sides can't agree, its best to ask the people.

    Secondly, you mention American govt priority is “furthering the hopes and dreams of youth and women. I really do believe that the US has a useful role to play in the Maldives, particularly in the maritime security, economic and education sectors.” The manner in which government was toppled is something the young people of this country will not accept - It gives only one message to the youth - If you are unhappy about the govt, get your army and police to protest outside the military headquarters, throw furniture at the HQ and its legitimate. The US govt, not once has publicly discussed the Constitutional means - namely impeachment or restoring the democratic process through elections as soon as possible.

    50 years down the line, how would the US policy on Maldives be viewed by the youth of today?

    How do you move forward and pretend things will be normal, when perpetrators (in uniform) of violence lead those institutions that are there to protect and serve the people? Impunity is the norm - People are being arrested on the streets for taking photos of the police - and yet, recently, the US Embassy official, Doug Marvin said “Among all the countries I have visited, without a doubt, Maldives has got the best police service”-

  10. @Shauna Aminath on Mon, 10th Sep 2012 10:28 AM

    I am surprised that everyone is trying to blame others here on this.

    This is our doing. We wanted it. We elected the Parliamentarians, who created the constitution as it is now.

    The constitution restricts severely anything anti islamic. And stepping outside the bounds of the 'accepted' religion caused the earth to move in this oust.

    So it is our fault. Not the Americans.

  11. Ali shiyam.

    You are right and we can not blame American for this.

    Jamalu. You have well said and explained what really is going on this country.

    Shauna. After 50 years , or even now , our history will tell the generation to come even that Anni is a traitor and he had robbed this country and he is the biggest threat to the democracy.

  12. All political debates in Maldives is one debate - Maumoon vs Anni.

    Surely 2 men barely 5 feet in height cannot be bigger than a country. One would expect educated (seemingly!) people like @Shauna Aminath would not be trapped in personal ideology of an individual.

    Ask not for Anni or Maummon. Ask what you can do for your country.

  13. The good ambassador is so out of touch with the pulse of women and youth in the country its pathetic.

    The USA supported a brutal dictatorship in Eqypt for 30 years with millions of dollars of aid to the army and the government. As they did in the Phillipines. As they did in Africa and South America and as they continue to do in the fuedal states of the middle east.

  14. @Shauna Aminath:

    First of all your perspective is compromised by the very fact that you had served as a Presidential appointee in the Nasheed regime and continue to be an activist within the MDP. No matter what your true intentions are you hold as much weight as does Mahloof, Nihan, Ali Waheed and co. by virtue of the very system you work within - a political party led and controlled by a single individual.

    As for American policy in the country I fear my criticism is that is late but not too little. The US, the UK or any other stakeholder with an interest in ensuring the consolidation of democracy in this country should have intervened when your boss (Ex-President Mohamed Nasheed)
    - Made discriminatory statements against the Maldivian people in a bid to increase MDP membership.
    - Arrested opposition leaders within Parliament as another intimidation tactic.
    - Padlocked the judiciary to get the Supreme Court bench of his choice.
    - Attacked the tourism industry just to spite his critics.
    - Chose sensationalism over consensus-building time and time again.

    I think the international community has finally woken up to the fact that Nasheed cannot lead a government or protect Western interests in the Maldives. Hence the "change in policy" as you see it.

    As for the youth of this country they are mostly apathetic towards politics as in other countries except for career politicians within parties such as yourself. I must also direct you to the fact that we had elections in 2008 which placed the current VP in line to succeed as President if the President were to resign. So far as I know that arrangement has still not changed.

  15. Sahuna Aminath,
    I totally agree and I add if you may,
    The US has looked at these matters as internal issues so far, But I also heard her saying"The US will never tolerate any allegations of Human Right Violations" as I may recollect, Also in regards to AI report, The new embassador I think needs a beads up in many areas of the situation on ground..

    Though it was perceived earlier as a nice ray of hope, we realised how ignorant and intrest-minded the US foreign policy has and will always be.
    In this light, I would suggest a formal representation by NGO's who she'll be meeting with the US envoy later this week, also A silent demonstration for the current regime crackdown on freedoms of expression, media,social networks,and freedom of assembly,,

    We always will need to open such ignorant people's eyes but by the only way they could understand, not that the US is blind, honestly, they just don't care much now,,,,

    Am an independent person and honestly Commend your spirit in this basic, moral & essential struggle towards our freedom,yet some,
    maldivians have chosen to be silent, or ignorant, or Hippocratic or all of the above,
    remember silence is betrayal, So don't be silenced by the disappointing US slower response to condemn this regime, am sure it'll take time to sink in,,,

    As for anyone who claims CONI was fair, and it's findings should be respected, that's not an option, we the people saw and witnessed totally different events, so we don't take CONI as any importance in our strive for the truth,,,,,


  16. America is what it is because so many people are praying for America.

    I am sure the present Ambassador would not let down democracy and freedom. America is a country of home of the bold and land of the free.

    I am sure the Ambassador knows this is a coup. I am sure the Ambassador knows that the head of the CoNi is Defense Minister of the previous President, who is head of the coup.

    And that Selvam (Singaporean lawyer) was bought over by the previous President. Otherwise, Nazim (present Defence Minister) would have been questioned by CoNI.

    CoNI did not EVEN questioned him when he was the person who asked Nasheed to resign. When he was just a civilian.

  17. My hopes is that education can become more technical and planning for the future regarding ways to get biofuels like biodiesel workshops and small factories for the islands so that they can convert the expensive diseals into cheaper biodiesels that can be coordinated through the ministry of transportation and education. Young people can become entrepreneurs in the efforts to make these projects throughout the country. That's one thing that can be done to make money and create jobs.

  18. I appreciate the island people so much and feel they can determine their own fate if they truly become aware of the things that can bring them economic success. They can improve fish yields through farming, raise animals for produce, create businesses for the youth in green technology like recycling and green biofuels and planning small businesses for Male and the other larger towns.

  19. we have to deal with the situation on the ground and hope for the best politically. I am concerned about the young people and finding things for them to do except get into trouble. That means extension programs in education, vocational study programs and courses in subjects that can help them in their lives


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